Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NBN speed test website draws quick fire



Less than a day after launching his NBN comparison website, a Liberal-leaning university student has been hailed on social media, accused of being a covert agent for the Labor Party and taken a verbal slap from Malcolm Turnbull.

James Brotchie's site,, lets visitors compare the speeds possible under Labor's national broadband network with the minimum guaranteed under the Coalition's alternative. Since the website went live on Tuesday afternoon, it has been visited nearly 80,000 times and received nearly 30,000 "likes" on Facebook.

The Labor Party has piggybacked on the enthusiasm, with the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, sharing it on his Facebook page and his press office spreading it on Twitter.

Screen shot: James Brotchie's website

Screen shot: James Brotchie's website

A spokesman for Senator Conroy suggested they admired Mr Brotchie's idea. It had been the most "viral" piece of communication on the NBN so far, the spokesman said.


The website's creator, Mr Brotchie, a 28 year-old PhD finance student at the University of Queensland, said he got a call late on Tuesday night by a member of federal Labor's social media team asking him "who the hell he was" and expressing admiration for the website.

"I am pretty much a Liberal voter," Mr Brotchie said. "I was just really pissed off with the Coalition's [NBN] policy".

James Brotchie created the website

James Brotchie created the website

Visitors to the website can trial simulated upload and download speeds of the two versions by uploading wedding photos, videos of puppies and simulating a Dropbox file transfer. 

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull described the website as "a thoroughly biased piece of propaganda".

In a blog post he went on to claim that the site is "innacurate and intended to mislead" and dismissed Mr Brotchie as "Senator Conroy's new online BFF".  

The website suggests the maximum speed possible under the Coalition's NBN is 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 5 Mbps upload, which Mr Turnbull said was misleading. Download speed of 25Mbps is in fact the minimum speed guaranteed by the Coalition, while the upper range would be closer to 100 Mbps. Mr Turnbull has made no promises regarding upload speeds.

Mr Brotchie was also wrong to claim that "no ongoing maintenance" for the fibre solution was required, Mr Turnbull said.

"What a joke. Are fibre optic cables immune to shovel strike? Are fibre distribution hubs, the NBN Co's street cabinets, impervious to trucks backing into them? Has human error been abolished so that all fibre splices are perfect?"

Amid the political warring over his website, Mr Brotchie seemed amused when it was suggested he was a covert agent for the Labor Party.

"I have never been involved with any political party," he said. "Never even met a Labor politician".

He claims on his website: "I have always been a Liberal voter, although, the lack of sane political discourse over the past few years has left me disillusioned with both parties."
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